‘Drop-In Studio’ lets GVSU students replicate Islamic art

Taylor Crowley

Celebrating Islamic art, geometric designs and hands-on experience, the Grand Valley State University Haas Center for Performing Arts will be hosting a “Drop-In Studio” in the Art Gallery. 

At the event, there will be Islamic art, tea and a welcoming environment. The drop-in sessions, happening at different times from Tuesday, Oct. 24, through Friday, Oct. 26, are free and open to the public. 

The pieces featured in the studio will be items that Professor Jim Goode and his wife, Virginia, have collected over 50 years of traveling to the Middle East. The couple has traveled to 11 countries. Interestingly enough, the items they have collected during their travels were not originally made for exhibits. Instead, they were just everyday tools. 

“We were looking at all these objects that Virginia Goode had, and there were carpets, basketry and ceramics,” said Stacey Burns, programs manager for the Art Gallery. “A lot of the things are from Asia and northern Africa, things people use every single day in their homes. Now, we don’t have a connection with how things are made. 

“You see these really intricate geometric patterns and you wonder, ‘How is that made?’ And that is something that we wanted to kind of play with.” 

Burns expanded on the idea of “playing with” the art by setting up this event for students to come in and try their hand at something new: The attending students will be able to follow instructions and try to replicate the intricate designs in the exhibit. 

“We wanted to get a really informal, time-flexible, three-to-four-hour spans so people can come in, have a cup of tea and not have to worry about how perfect it ends up being,” Burns said. “Maybe just try their hand at a loom and try out some of the geometric patterns.”

In our current, fast-paced world, people are not necessarily noticing where things are made and what they are made from; sometimes, there is a disconnect between having a craft and actually putting things together. This event correlates the two by bringing culture to GVSU while also giving the students a hands-on experience. 

“This event is a great opportunity for Grand Valley to expand their diversity even more than they already have,” said Tessa Araoz Sr., a student hoping to attend the event. “I think it’s good that GVSU opens up to appreciating other art and other peoples’ cultures.” 

Araoz said as a Hispanic student at GVSU, she is glad the university is showcasing other cultures. 

At the drop-in studio, the students will be working with historic objects rather than working with fine art. The coordinators of these events are open to new ideas on what they showcase and are looking for new paths to take. 

“A big goal for the university and the Art Gallery is broadening perspectives and multiculturalism,” Burns said. “It’s about understanding one another and their experiences.”

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/events/drop-in-studio-2/.